Christian Eriksen scores a goal to make it Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth in the Premier Leaugue match.

Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth: piercing the diamond

A switch to longer passing eventually cracked a diamond midfield as it finished Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth at Wembley Stadium.

A diamond midfield gave Mauricio Pochettino plenty of food for thought. Spurs plodded through much of the match, but a conscious switch of formation and strategy proved the difference. Longer passes and quicker movement through the inside right channel saw chances and the only goal of the game as it finished Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth at Wembley Stadium.

Bournemouth’s diamond defence

Bournemouth came with a plan to stifle and frustrate. The Cherries went with a back five fronted by a midfield diamond that sought to keep Spurs out of the middle of the pitch.

The tactic was successful. Without Ben Davies, Mauricio Pochettino reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation. This setup includes three advanced midfielders that drift centrally. Son Heung-Min, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen ran right in to the heart of Bournemouth’s trap.

Too narrow against the diamond and Vertonghen too deep during Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth.

Too narrow against the diamond and Vertonghen too deep.

Width supplied through the full backs should’ve been the key for Spurs. However, with Jan Vertonghen playing as an emergency left back, Tottenham struggled to get forward. Vertonghen’s position was often ten yards deeper than he needed to be. This often contributed to the slow build-up of attacks.

The diamond formation gave Bournemouth a strong platform from which to launch their counter attacks. Junior Stanislas had a goal bound shot deflected wide by Davinson Sanchez’s chest. Hugo Lloris then made a world class save moments later from a corner.

Spurs down the sides

Diamond midfields need to be stretched. Ball movement, often from longer passes or switches in play, and width are key. In the first half Spurs struggled to provide this. Bournemouth’s diamond midfield had time to shuffle across the pitch, aided by Tottenham’s slow tempo.

Two moments provided the indicators of where the opposition’s weakness was. First of all Kieran Trippier hit a 40 yard pass in the direction of Dele Alli’s run through the inside right channel.

Trippier’s pass went straight over the diamond, taking it out of the game. Left back Charlie Daniels was pulled out by Trippier’s position. Dele Alli and Harry Kane were therefore afforded room to run the channels between a back three that had lost its wingbacks pinching in to protect it.

Trippier's pass over the diamond midfield for Dele's run during Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth.

Trippier’s pass over the diamond midfield for Dele’s run.

The second moment again highlighted the open inside right channel and moving the ball beyond or over the diamond midfield.

Bournemouth’s diamond was able to get over to try and pin Christian Eriksen by the touchline. However, Eriksen could chip the ball over it  for Harry Kane’s run, as wingback Charlie Daniels was again lured out by Trippier’s position. Unfortunately, Kane bobbled his shot straight at Asmir Begovic.

Eriksen chips the ball over the diamond to find Kane during Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth.

Eriksen chips the ball over the diamond to find Kane.

Spurs switch formation and strategy

At half time, Mauricio Pochettino switched to a back three. Eric Dier dropped in between Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez. The team was then instructed to play much longer passes either over or through Bournemouth’s diamond midfield to by pass it.

The ploy worked immediately as Spurs took the lead. Davinson Sanchez is an underrated passer. His pinpoint ball in to Harry Kane’s feet started the move in the inside right channel and got play beyond Bournemouth’s diamond midfield. Once more wingback Charlie Daniels was pulled away from protecting his back three by the position of Kieran Trippier. The knock-on effect was space between the lines for Son Heung-Min.

Sanchez's pass bypasses the diamond midfield to Kane during Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth.

Sanchez’s pass bypasses the diamond midfield to Kane.

Kane laid off Sanchez’s pass for Son who was on the back three with room to run. As a result, Nathan Ake was pulled out from his centre back partners, creating confusion.

Son on the ball draws out Ake and space for Eriksen's run during Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth.

Son on the ball draws out Ake and space for Eriksen’s run.

The diamond raced back to try and engulf Son’s run and stop Spurs through the middle. However, Christian Eriksen had charged forward to join him. As the net closed around him, Eriksen somehow bobbled the ball through a very tame challenge by Simon Francis and was in the clear. As the ball sat up, Eriksen had only a brief instance to pick his spot before the mob arrived. Calmness and a deft finish were needed. Eriksen supplied it to open the scoring, Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth.

Spurs continue to bypass the diamond

A goal to the good and the team was inspired to look for a second. The players continued to look for longer passes over or past Bournemouth’s diamond midfield towards Kane’s runs through the inside right channel.

Kieran Trippier supplied the first ball over the diamond midfield, which took it out of the game. Harry Kane headed the pass in to the net, but his run through the inside right channel was too early.

Trippier passes over the diamond midfield for Kane's run during Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth.

Trippier passes over the diamond midfield for Kane’s run.

Harry Winks then picked out a pinpoint pass for Kane’s inside right channel run. The diamond midfield was bypassed in one move, but Asmir Begovic wasn’t. The Bournemouth keeper raced out to smother Kane’s shot and then save the rebound.

Winks passes over the diamond midfield for Kane's run during Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth.

Winks passes over the diamond midfield for Kane’s run.

Bournemouth’s attacking subs

With fifteen minutes to go Bournemouth abandoned its plan to sit back and play on the counter with two attacking substitutions. Jermain Defoe and Jordon Ibe entered the game as the Cherries sought a way back in to the match.

The pair combined instantly to almost provide it. A neat reverse pass by Ibe found Defoe’s run. The striker’s quick near post shot almost caught Hugo Lloris out. However, our goalkeeper kicked out a leg to spare his blushes and deny Defoe.

Sissoko in to a stretched game

At the same time Mauricio Pochettino introduced Moussa Sissoko. The Frenchman’s powerful runs have been a feature of his recent upswing in form. Pochettino sending Sissoko in to the action later in games has have proved an effective counter attack against tiring opposition. In fifteen minutes, he provided three good chances as Bournemouth conceded possession with numbers up field.

Sissoko’s first powerful counter attacking run with the ball saw a fierce left-footed shot by Christian Eriksen well saved. Bournemouth was then caught with men forward again as Sissoko set off once more. Dele Alli headed a neatly chipped cross just past the post as Sissoko’s pace and power wreaked havoc for the second time.

The third and final chance would be Tottenham’s best. Sissoko rampaged through midfield following a Bournemouth turnover. However, in a four on one situation, he over hit the pass towards Georges-Kevin Nkoudou. Introduced for his pace in what had become a counter attacking game, Nkoudou just got to the ball before Asmir Begovic. The goalkeeper took him out as they collided, but a better pass would’ve seen Nkoudou with a great chance to control and score.

Christian Eriksen drove the resulting free kick straight at Begovic and the match ended Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth. Three vital points gained.

Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth overall

Tottenham took a while to get to grips with the task. Initially hindered by our own formation and the personnel within it, the change of strategy paid off. A switch to a back three and much longer passes over or past the Bournemouth diamond midfield won the game.

The change of ploy was again another plus point that Mauricio Pochettino has markedly improved with his in-game tactical switches and tweaks in the last twelve months.

Pochettino is still left with questions though. On a day when we needed width, Jan Vertonghen at left back didn’t work. Vertonghen is capable, but lacks the foot speed and aggressive positioning required for Pochettino’s system. Without both starting left backs in Ben Davies and Danny Rose, the coach does need a third option. He has tried Son as a wingback and Vertonghen here too, but maybe its time to use the versatility of Kyle Walker-Peters?

Final score: Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth.
MOTM: Davinson Sanchez.

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14 Responses to Spurs 1-0 Bournemouth: piercing the diamond

  1. Paulo 15th October 2017 at 7:18 pm #


    Nice to see you gave man of the match to Davinson. I also would have gone for him. How do you feel he’s settling in? I think he’s done brilliantly for a 21 year old centre back… I can’t remember seeing a more accomplished centre back that age…..

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 15th October 2017 at 11:58 pm #

      I think he’s done well. There are a few moments where he’s slightly out of position or gets caught wrong side and has to either lunge or use his pace, but that’s to be expected when settling in to the speed of the premier league. Overall I’m impressed. If he’s this decent now then how good is he going to be with a full season under his belt?

      • YouShubes 16th October 2017 at 8:44 am #

        Our three “poor” game were against sides that had pace in abundance Liverpool (home and away) and City away. Sanchez with his speed gives a great safety net. Feel for the lad as he has had no pre season and has to dive in head first…

        The liverpool and in particular the Man U game him vs Lukaku will be a bruising encounter. But can he do it on a cold night in Watford?

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 16th October 2017 at 3:40 pm #

          He has plenty of time to settle in before our visit to Watford, or even our trip to the fabled ultimate test in the Potteries ;)

  2. Jerry 15th October 2017 at 8:35 pm #

    Goodanalysis of yesterday’s game. There is no doubt we need to pass with more pace and purpose if we want to break down the teams (there will be many) who come to Wembley to try and grab a point. Having watched Athleti v Barca and the Man City highlights, it is clear how high the benchmark has been set if we want to be real contenders. Interesting to speculate how Barkley might enhance our creativity. Personally I would love to see Ryan Sessegnon and Celtic’s Moussa Sissoko added to the squad, bringing youth, raw pace and goals to what is already our best group for many a year. COYS

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 16th October 2017 at 12:04 am #

      Yes we do need to move the ball better against these teams. It seems that the defend deep and counter approach will be used by many of our Wembley opponents. Therefore we do need to be conscious of continuously moving the ball quickly.

      It’ll be interesting to see if Poch does add any pace or creative guile to the squad in January.

  3. Chas 15th October 2017 at 9:07 pm #

    A thought-provoking read, Mark!
    It’s the old adage, isn’t it?
    Play a man out of his spot and you weaken two positions. And I think that’s why you’re bang on with using KWP. Nothing else has worked and, against Real, Poch HAS to prioritise defence.
    Personally, with Son out of form and with Alli unavailable, I’d like to see how we go with Kane there – behind Llorente. At least at some stage of the game, anyway.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 16th October 2017 at 12:13 am #

      Spot on about weakening two positions Chas. I think we have a real conundrum against Madrid with the news that Davies won’t play. Against Bournemouth I’d have used KWP, but Real are a vastly superior animal. Vertonghen might be alright at left back for purely defensive duties as we won’t control possession or territory and will play on the counter. KWP would therefore be a very bold move.

      Llorente and Kane would be equally as daring. I think we’ll see Sissoko in for Dele, but Llorente would be a brave gamble!

  4. YouShubes 15th October 2017 at 10:08 pm #

    Thought this would have been the ideal game to blood KWP on the left…he is good but even playing LWB against the carvajal replacement is like a feeding a puppy to a pride of lions.

    Need to rewatch the game…thought Samchez struggled with the directness of King first half…he is not really suited to be part of a CB pairing yet….that said given the usual CB pairing is Jan and Toby he had a lot to live up to….

    I am hoping Winks can learn to pass over/though a midfield diamond…will come in hand vs Real’s diamond .

    Will you have time to do a tactical preview of the RM game?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 16th October 2017 at 12:14 am #

      I will do if I have time

  5. Matt 16th October 2017 at 6:34 pm #

    Wonder if Poch will consider Aurier on right and Tripps on left. Far from perfect but at least you have experience; athleticism and football intelligence albeit Tripps delivery is diminished on the left. KWP seems a big gamble.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 16th October 2017 at 9:26 pm #

      Yes I think that’ll be the game plan. We’ve already seen Tripps at left back this season so he should be there again to allow our strongest back three. My first thought on seeing Aurier on the bench on Saturday was that he’s starting on Tuesday.

      As said above, KWP would be ok against Bournemouth but not for Madrid, could easily destroy his confidence and set his development back. Would be an incredibly bold move to play him.

  6. MrE 18th October 2017 at 3:01 pm #

    Hi Mark,
    Great to see you back and giving the great analysis we have come to expect.
    Would love to see your review of our excellent performance last night as well as a “what Aurier adds” type piece as I thought he was great last night , apart from a kyle walker style lapse for the penalty! Commentators will not stop with the reckless tag and I’m not sure if he’s not a victim of this label with refs already (although stone wall pen last night!)

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 18th October 2017 at 5:22 pm #

      Hi MrE, will try and put together a piece on Aurier. He has a big upside as he showed in moments last night, but also the potential to make a mistake and get caught out of position, as he did in losing the ball and then fouling Kroos. Its not the first time this has happened. He has positional issues as he showed against West Ham where he was lucky not to concede a penalty as he tried to recover from a bad position. Hopefully a few months in Poch’s system will see this rectified. He’s racing around like a bull in a china shop a bit too much at the minute, but once the pace of the game slows down for him, he’ll be much better.
      Report up on the site now. What a game! Still Buzzing!